Be the Video Game Developer is an interactive website encouraging young girls to consider a career in design.
In an ideal world, male and female perspectives would get equal treatment in games, but right now that balance is a tad one-sided. That's not to say there hasn't been progress; in fact, groups like the Girl Scouts of the USA are actively encouraging women to get more involved in game design careers. Not only is its LA chapter offering a Game Design Merit Badge to members, the larger organization is upping the ante with a two-year, $600,000 grant provided by Dell's Powering the Possible Youth Learning Initiative. To give an idea of what the Girl Scouts have in mind, the company has released a browser game called Be the Video Game Developer, an interactive experience introducing development principles to a new generation of young women and prospective game creators.
Be the Video Game Developer gives players a crash course on the various elements of game design. While gameplay parameters are fixed (collect point-awarding items while avoiding obstacles) there are still a variety of development options to tweak and alter. Players choose from a list of protagonists, environments, and soundtracks before flipping to a "coding" section to assign variables like time limits and overall difficulty. Participants are then provided with the chance to test their finished game before sharing it online with friends and family.
"We are thrilled to partner with Dell to bring girls a unique and exciting opportunity to design and create their own video game experience," said Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez. "Today's girls are digital natives, as comfortable in front of computer screens and smartphones as adults. Be the Video Game Developer lets girls delve deeper into the world of technology, learning vital new skills and discovering their own creativity in a manner both engaging and interactive. As we face a future of ever-expanding opportunity in science and technology, Girl Scouts and Dell are partnering to create a girl-led learning experience that will drive more girls into these groundbreaking new fields."
While Be the Video Game Developer is less about making games than clicking pre-made game assets, it certainly is capable of sparking an interest in game design. Hopefully that spark, coupled with an education in math and computer sciences, will be enough to make the games industry a little more diverse in the future.